When R and I started dating almost 4 years ago, I knew he had children. I had always told myself I would not date a man with children, because I did not have children of my own and was not sure I was ready for that. But life had a different plan for me. We fell in love and wanted a life together. Even with all of the struggles and heartache I have experienced through the process, I truly believe R is the man I am supposed to be with.
We moved in together last May and I was on my journey to becoming a stepmom. With a wedding coming up in September, there have been many trials and tribulations that have put lots of stress on our little family. I have had my ups and downs, but I am learning how to work through the hard times day by day. I used to allow the blame to be put on me, now I know it's not all my fault. I am apart of something that may still hurt some of the parties involved, but I am not the cause of the initial hurt if that makes sense.
Any person who has stepped into a role as a parent to a child who is not biologically theirs, knows how tough the situation can be at times. You do not only have to worry about the child(ren), but all of the other persons who are apart of the child's life. Because each situation is different, there are no real guidelines to follow, but you should know that you should never feel like it is always your fault when things go wrong. It took me a long time to realize this.
Everyone is getting used to the changes and for some, the separation of their family members is still very fresh in their minds. I would like to believe these emotions come out of their own grief and mourning of what was, and what is no longer. I want to stress that everyone involved is experiencing some form of emotion.
The road can be very challenging, yet so rewarding when you start to form a bond with your stepchildren. There are going to be times when you feel the love and times when you feel like a complete outsider. The most important thing to remember is to allow the child to move at their own pace, but remind them to be respectful in the process. It is also important that the adults around them are also respectful and positive in this stage.
We are all human, and emotions will get in the way sometimes, but as I have learned, staying positive and stepping away when things get heated are the best actions. It will be much easier to navigate when both parties have cooled down. This is where I have started paying attention to self care.
Self care is so important in these situations. Life can be very stressful on a normal day, and blending a family will have moments where the stresses can double. You could come home from a stressful work day to find children who are also stressed out, and that can be hard if you can't offer them any relief because you are "not their mom". It happens. It sometimes hurts to be pushed out.
This is when I remember it's going to be okay. I remember that I can take some time for me. It's allowed and it's essential. Self care is so important for everyone. Even taking 15 minutes a day for yourself is effective. It will make you happier. It will remind you, that even in the hard moments, you are still you. You are reminded that you still have hobbies and interests to escape to during those hard times.
Today I feel like I am in a much better place than I was even 6 months ago. I am taking time for myself and building better relationships. I am doing my part to make sure I am being positive, yet not allowing myself to get lost in the shuffle. I speak up when it's necessary and step away when needed. I take responsibility for my own actions, and that is really all I can do. I can't force anyone else to act a specific way. I can't make these things happen alone.
I am looking forward to what the future holds for me. Looking forward to seeing where this journey is taking me. My journey to becoming a stepmom.
Are you a step parent? What are your experiences?